The Greatest Albums of All Time: Septic Death- “Now That I Have the Attention What Do I Do With It?”


Not a lot of bands come from Boise, Idaho, however even if SEPTIC DEATH were the only band to emerge from there, it should put the city on the map as birthing something great.
The band was formed by late ’70s/ early ’80s California skate regular Brian “Pushead” Schroeder, who had already made a bit of a name in the underground hardcore/ punk scene not only as a skater, but as an artist.  He began sending his art to bands and ‘zines in the early ’80s, and many of them chose to use it.  Later he became the main artist for Zorlac Skateboards, designing the artwork for a special edition METALLICA skateboard .  The band soon used him to design art and t-shirts for them, which propelled him to even larger fame.  At this point he has done art for tons of bands both big and small, and his unmistakable gruesome and original artwork and attention to detail was first brought into full bloom in the service of SEPTIC DEATH.
Now That I Have the Attention What Do I Do With It?
(which came out in early ’86) is not actually an album proper, but a re-issue of the band’s first 12″ep Need So Much Attention… Acceptance of Whom mixed with some compilation tracks and some new songs.  Side A features 3 tracks from the 12″ep that have added guitars and re-recorded vocals, as well as songs from compilations such as PEACE/ WarCleanse the Bacteria, and the Putrid Evil flexi (some re-recorded).  Side B features the other 9 songs from the 12″ep in their original versions.

Back cover of the Need So Much Attention... 12"ep

Back cover of the Need So Much Attention… 12″ep

Pushead still considers it his band’s debut album rather than a compilation, so we at PMT count it as such. The music on this is astoundingly perfect, jaw dropping hardcore thrash. There are few albums that deal in this kind of music that are this phenomenal. The songs are fairly simple, but very original sounding even today (after almost 30 years). The musicianship is as tight as can be, with insanely fast picking from guitarist Onj, talented and original bass lines from bassist Mike Matlock and a stop-on-a-dime delivery that belies a strong intimacy with the songs and their instruments. There is no band that I can think of who play thrash that can top this. Some people say SLAYER’s Reign In Blood is the ultimate thrash album, but this one blows it away. The fast parts are incredibly fast, and the breakdowns are rocking and make you want to kill. The vocals sound like a cross between a hardcore screamer and a gruff black metal vocalist (with just a bit of a snotty punk snarl), and the song structures are interesting and well put together (even the shorter songs like “Advantage” and “Dream Silent” seem carefully crafted). It’s worth mentioning that drummer Paul Birnbaum is insanely talented and his outstanding drum work is a perfect testament to what a thrashcore drummer should sound like- not just fast, but rhythmically interesting.
The lyrics are also written with a high level of quality, mostly concerning madness and horror (with some social ones thrown in).
The production is perfect- clear enough to hear everything well, but grimey enough to not sound too clean or overproduced.  The buzzsaw guitars and fuzzy bass compliment the machine gun drums (that at times sound like he’s pounding on a coffin) perfectly.

The packaging and artwork is top notch, as you’d expect from a detail-oriented perfectionist like Pushead.  However he gets a couple of other artists to do some work on it as well, so the artwork is varied and not one-dimensional.

Many bands, from METALLICA to INTEGRITY have heralded the brilliance of SEPTIC DEATH (James Hetfield even did vocals on their follow-up 7″ep Burial, and Kirk Hammett played mead guitar on a song on their Kichigai 7″ep).  If you like hardcore, thrash, crust, or extreme metal and you haven’t checked this album out, do yourself a favor and listen to it now.

Their drummer and guitarist have switched instruments and now play in a band called Little Miss and the No-Names (who are much more punk rock sounding).

The Greatest Albums of All Time: Godflesh – “Godflesh” (1988)


This is the one that started it all.
In the early ’90s it seemed that every grindcore, crust, and death metal musician formed a side band that mixed industrial and metal (and every label seemed to have some)- MALFORMED EARTHBORN (featuring members of BRUTAL TRUTH), SPINE-WRENCH (DEVIATED INSTINCT), OPTIMUM WOUND PROFILE (EXTREME NOISE TERROR), MEATHOOK SEED (OBITUARY and NAPALM DEATH), CANDIRU (EXIT 13), BLOOD FROM THE SOUL (NAPALM DEATH), NAILBOMB (SEPULTURA), SKREW (ANGKOR WAT), SCORN (NAPALM DEATH), PUNCTURE (GAMMACIDE) and plenty more.  On top of that, many industrial bands began putting heavy guitars into their sound (MINISTRY, FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY, CONTROLLED BLEEDING (which had members who even formed a side industrial metal band SKIN CHAMBER), KMFDM, ELECTRIC HELLFIRE CLUB, and NINE INCH NAILS) that was not there before, and tons of bands formed who mixed metal and industrial, as well as rock and industrial (RAMMSTEIN, SISTER MACHINE GUN, SOULSTORM, GRAVITY KILLS, PITCH SHIFTER, STABBING WESTWARD, BILE, MACHINES OF LOVING GRACE, STERIL, 16 VOLT, THE CLAY PEOPLE, MARILYN MANSON,  MALHAVOC, tons more).  They owe it all to GODFLESH and their self titled debut  album, which came first and blows most of them away.

The feel is cold and dark.  The guitars sound like bent metal girders that are being grinded together, bathed in feedback with a rhythmic, inhuman drum pounding out the beat.  The vocals are processed howls mixed with echo washed gloomy moans; this album was as heavy as most any death metal band, and as bleak as most any nihilistic industrial band.  The songs bring to mind the soundtrack to a bulldozer crashing through your bedroom wall, but with a bit of a groove to them.

It wasn’t created in a vacuum, of course- you can hear a heavy early period SWANS influence, as well as BIG BLACK and KILLING JOKE mixed with CELTIC FROST.
The members who created this masterpiece were two young men from Birmingham, England- G.C. Green, who came from a KILLING JOKE inspired band called FALL OF BECAUSE; and Justin Broadrick, who came from the grindcore band NAPALM DEATH (tho he only played on the A side of their debut (and best) album Scum).

Godflesh conjures up an atmosphere of cold brutality and depression, but it is still quite catchy in places.  I doubt you’d ever hear any songs off of it on the dance floor, but they mix their dirgy crushers with a couple of upbeat (tho still quite heavy) crashing ragers.  When listened to as a whole, it’s a magnificent piece of work- you hear the word “epic” tossed around so much these days that it’s completely lost it’s meaning, but this album is the essence of the true definition of epic.  Grand.  Powerful.  You really have to hear it to understand.
Most people prefer their follow up album Streetcleaner, which is also excellent and can be described in similar terms, but this self titled debut is the superior release for me.  It came directly out of the punk rock and grind DIY scene (the cover is even a folded up paper cover like C.R.A.S.S. used to use on a lot of the records on their label), on a smaller label (which started as a record store) called Swordfish (while Streetcleaner was produced by the rising indie giant Earache records).  It’s just a bit rawer, more primal and hungry.  The distorted, creepy cover image (a still taken from John Frankenheimer’s film Seconds) is suitably desolate and mysterious looking, but doesn’t prepare you for the pounding you’re about to receive.

It was re-released on cd by Earache with two bonus tracks, both more experimental and non-musical (tho still beat oriented) than the 6 songs on the original version.
They would go on to put out a lot of albums, featuring many different variations on their industrial metal style, mixing in drone, techno, breakbeat, shoegaze (which they also helped invent), and post metal (once again, which they also helped invent), but for me they never recaptured the bleak, epic power and raw grandeur of this debut album.

They’ve recently reformed (after splitting in 2002 during Broadrick’s nervous breakdown) and seem to have returned to their heavier roots (they’ve released one song so far- a cover of the Canadian band SLAUGHTER’s song “F.O.D. (Fuck of Death)”).  I doubt they’ll ever put out another brilliant, game changing album like Godflesh, but we can always hope.

The Greatest Albums of All Time: SAMHAIN – “November~Coming~Fire” (1986)


A lot can be (and has been) said about Glenn Danzig- he’s a douche bag, a big baby, egotist pip squeak, hard to work with, etc. (I’ve also heard he’s a very nice guy), but you can’t really disparage his musical legacy.  The MISFITS, SAMHAIN, and DANZIG are all original, subgenre starting or defining bands that were (mostly) ahead of their time.

Of the bands, I like THE MISFITS the best, but my favorite single release of a band he’s fronted has to be SAMHAIN’s November~Coming~Fire.
THE MISFITS were fun and punky, but when they quit making music, he decided to go darker.  Much darker.  SAMHAIN’s debut Intium takes some getting used to (mainly because of the production), but still has some leftover MISFITS sing-a-long punk in it (particularly on songs like “He-Who-Can-Not-Be-Named”), tho interwovern with a much darker edge (and ended with one of my fav songs from them- “Archangel”, which actually was a MISFITS song that went through tons of revisions, re-recordings and re-mixings (the bass was re-recorded at least 3 times, once by Jerry Only and once by Al Pike of REAGAN YOUTH, who also played some of the keyboards on Intium), which I suppose was an ok trade off since Danzig ‘gave’ some songs he had written for SAMHAIN (“Death Comes Ripping” and “Bloodfeast”) to the MISFITS so their Earth AD/ Wolf’s Blood album could be full length), but it’s a solid first effort, and great intro to the new sound.
Their next release, the Unholy Passion ep, was even darker (and featured another of my most fav songs from them- “The Hungry End”), and had even less of the funner MISFITS feel (even in their version of “All Hell Breaks Loose” (now titled simply “All Hell”)).

But when we get to November~Coming~Fire, that’s where the darkness and atmosphere mix with punk and death rock to make a perfect album- punkier than death rock, but much more atmospheric and dark than punk, it’s the best of both worlds.  The guitars are ran through a processor that gives them a haunting, otherwordly feel (I’ve only heard a couple of other bands use this sound, most notably the hardcore band THE SCAM, who only put out one 7″ep and a couple of comp tracks before they broke up), and are laden with spooky sounding feedback.  The keyboards are low in the mix, just enough to provide some dark atmosphere and background noise, and the drumming is very rhythmic, almost tribal at times..  Danzig was 30 years old when he recorded this album, and his voice was in fine form- he was beginning to get the croon he would later be famous for, but still with a bit of a younger, punky edge to it.  The songs go by almost too quickly, (only three songs are over 3 minutes long), and it leaves you wanting more.

This album introduced a new drummer, London May (who came from the similarly punky death rock band REPTILE HOUSE, who had a 7″ep out on Dischord produced by Ian McKay) who didn’t have enough time to learn the songs, so Danzig programmed the drums for five of the songs on his drum machine (tho it sounds so good you couldn’t tell the difference), as well as playing keyboards and second guitar.  It was recorded at Reel Platinum studios (where a lot of MISFITS sessions were also recorded), and produced by Glenn Danzig.

Danzig has written some very cheesy and goofy lyrics, which were fun in the MISFITS but get a little too serious in DANZIG (the band), almost a parody of what would be considered ‘evil’ and sexual, but done completely straight-faced.  However SAMHAIN’s lyrics are a different story- minimalist, filled with rage and deviant dark thoughts, there’s very few ‘evil nerd fullfilment’ type lyrics (well, maybe “Human Pony Girl”), and it works well with the darker nature of the music.
This album is a masterpiece, and anyone into goth, dark punk, or death rock should love it.  It should be right up there with the darkest of gothy and death rock classics like SISTERS OF MERCY’s Floodland (which came out the same year) and BAUHAUS’ In the Flat Field (even tho it’s much punkier than either of them), but because it came out of a different scene, it was never embraced by the Bat Club crowd (and a good percentage of punks who picked it up just didn’t get it).  So it’s a woefully underheard and underrated album, which is a shame.
The only other release SAMHAIN put out was the Final descent ep, which was basically the band DANZIG (for the most part), some of it even recorded after DANZIG had formed.  Tho it has a few decent songs on it, it just doesn’t have the feel, the darkness, the atmosphere of their other releases, and for those reasons I find it hard to consider it a SAMHAIN release.  But we’ll always have the first album and ep, plus this monumental release, to enjoy from them.

Today is Halloween, so it’s a great day to revisit it, or listen to it for the first time if you’ve never heard it.  It’s pretty easy to find on youtube and other places (tho the actual lps and cds are hard to come by), so do yourself a favor and check it out.

The Greatest Albums Of All Time: REPULSION “Horrified” (1989)


The date this album was released is a bit misleading.  To appreciate the full history and influence this band and recording had on extreme music, you have to go back to their formation in the early to mid ’80s.  They started out under the name GENOCIDE, and released 3 demos under that name (Toxic Metal (1984); Violent Death (1985), and The Stench of Burning Death (1986)).  They put the band on hiatus while a couple of the members joined DEATH for a short period, but that didn’t work out so they reformed as REPULSION (a much better name, both in image and originality (there were at least 2 other bands who had recordings under the name GENOCIDE)).
The GENOCIDE demos got them a lot of attention in the underground metal and hardcore scene, and they became known as one of the fastest and most extreme bands out, as well as one of the first bands to perfectly mix hardcore and metal (which created grindcore, a term coined by the band NAPALM DEATH a little later when they appropriated the sound (they started out as an anarcho-punk band) and made it even more extreme).  As REPULSION they were determined to play even faster and be even more extreme.  They booked some time in a local low budget basement recording studio ran by a burned out hippie who regarded their music with derision, and recorded their 18 song masterpiece (or should it be blasterpiece?) in 4 days.  Most of the songs were GENOCIDE songs that they sped up even more, but they found they were lacking in time (they wanted at least 30 minutes of music on it) so they wrote some longer songs (such as “Black Breath” and “Maggots In Your Coffin”) to fill up the time.  The last song they wrote (“Crematorium”) was barely finished being created when they went into the studio.
The engineer didn’t know anything about this kind of music, so he just pushed all the levels up and isolated them.  They recorded scratch guitar and bass tracks, then went back in and relayed them after they got the drums the way they wanted.  The vocals were done on a cheap PCM mike, which gave them the distorted “yelled through a CB radio” effect.  The scratch bass was ran through a distortion pedal and plugged direct into the recording console, which gave it an insanely fuzzed out and distorted sound.  After they had finished re-recording their instruments for the real session, they discovered that the engineer had accidently  recorded some of the overdubbed guitar solos over the (supposed to be) permanent bass track, and they were out of time and couldn’t re-record it.  So they had to use the fuzzy scratch bass track in the final recording, which made it all the more distorted and intense.  When they finished they had an ugly, distorted mess- it was the closest thing to slightly sculpted chaos ever put on tape up to that point.  There was really nothing that extreme out in the world of hardcore or metal, and they were nonplussed about it.
They wanted to call it Slaughter of the Innocent, and sent it out to most of the labels that were putting out extreme music at the time.  None of the labels showed any interest, as it was far too chaotic and extreme and noisy for most any established label to think it would sell in 1986, so the band begin selling it themselves and circulating it in the underground on cassette.  It sold decently, but they were discouraged that no labels showed any interest in them, and after awhile they drifted apart (a couple of them joined the service) and thought that was that.  REPULSION the band was only together for probably less than 2 years.
rep 4
Meanwhile, the recording became a staple in the tape trading scene.  It’s intensity and uncompromising brutality made it legendary, and members of bands like NAPALM DEATH, PUNGENT STENCH, ENTOMBED,  and CARCASS (and many more) started spreading the word, talking about them in interviews and making them even more legendary.  Both Shane Embry (NAPALM DEATH) and Jeff Walker (CARCASS) tried to get Dig Pearson of Earache to release it, but he wasn’t totally convinced.  After CARCASS began getting big, Jeff decided to start his own record label Necrosis Records, and Dig agreed to distribute it’s releases on Earache.  After releasing a 12″ep of his old band the ELECTRO HIPPIES to get his feet wet, he wanted to put out REPULSION’s Slaughter of the Innocent album.  They got in touch with the band, and Dig funded a remix of the album.  They refined the sound a tiny bit (taking out some of the feedback and effects on the vocals) and decided the name Horrified fit the album better.  It was released on Necrosis in 1989, 3 years after it was recorded.
repulsion 3
The album still stands up today as a perfect example of an extreme mix of metal and hardcore taken to ten.  It starts off with a catchy, moshy slower part, then the mayhem begins.  And that describes it perfectly- mayhem.  Chaos.  All the fun and dangerous things you want in extreme music.  Super fuzzed out bass. Distorted, yelled vocals (that sound like no one else before or since).  Machine-gun drums.  Blazing guitar solos that come out of nowhere and disappear just as fast.  And of course the great EC Comics inspired horror lyrics.  I think the only thing I’d change is to leave the cool feedback in “Radiation Sickness” from the cassette version they sold themselves (they took it out when they remixed the album).
Get in touch with your brutal, primitive side and check this out if you haven’t heard it.  It’s never too late…

Greatest albums of all time: CONFLICT – “The Ungovernable Force” (1986)

When people ask me what my favorite punk/ hardcore album of all time is, I can’t answer honestly- there are several that are tied. However when pressed, I usually say this album- CONFLICT’s masterpiece The Ungovernable Force.



It starts off with a crude noise collage called “You Cannot Win” that goes into the intro from their album Increase the Pressure (the whole album has nods to CONFLICT’s past, as well as a punk history lesson in the lyrics), then some piercing feedback.   The next bunch of songs are all connected to each other, almost a punk and hardcore medley that starts off with two incredibly ripping tracks (with a  savage bass line) that sound like one song, then a marching nod to C.R.A.S.S. (which a lot of the members of CONFLICT were also in).
“Custom Rock” comments on radio-friendly bands who join corporate labels to get famous, and the music kind of apes U2, but is 100% CONFLICT.  Then they go into another march that brings us up to date on the state of things (at the time).  All of these songs have their own feel and flavor but flow into each other seamlessly.  Another savage commentary on popular music comes next- this one about bonehead metal bands and tough-guy hardcore bands (the music is suitably matallic as well).  The last song on side A is a brutal and pissed diatribe about standing up for what’s right and fighting the powers that be when they are oppressive.  Lyrics like “Riot- there ain’t been a riot but ones knocking at your door; you’ve seen nothing yet but household pets, you’ll feel the lion’s claws!” are pretty call-to-action provocative.  This song is accompanied by samples from a big riot that happened in London.

Side B starts off with an older CONFLICT (from their first album It’s Time To See Who’s Who era) soundung track which quickly morphs into the catchy and humorous “Force Or Service?”.  These tracks are more catchy and punky, but then comes “The Arrest”, which is back to a faster hardcore track that tells what you should do if you get arrested (“Whatever you go through in a police cell is nothing compared to the suffering inflicted by governments; the state destroys tortures and murders, we must stop them using force if necessary- remember that and good luck!”).  This is followed by a mellower instrumental (that even sound a little Metallica-esque at tomes) then another savage and awesome song about a nuclear strike.  This is the climax of the album.
The last 2 songs are “This Is the A.L.F.”-  a very well put together song with a lot of interesting changes about animal liberation and the final song is a very quiet and poetic one with just a piano and a female singer.

This album is put together so well, the way all the songs flow into each other and build to a climax- the dynamics and riveting patterns of the songs, and the way they all have so much going on in them- the multi-instrumentation, the 3 vocalists, plus the samples and noises.  The only complaint that I would have is that most of the songs don’t stand up as well on their own (tho some do), because they are fragments of an overall piece.  But make no mistake- this is an excellent and ambitious album well put together by talented musicians with a lot of spirit, fire, conviction  and personality.  Find it…

The album sounds better if you lsiten to it as a whole, but this song stands well on it’s own and is a good example of the album’s excellence: